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The European Chronicles - 5/29/14

Day Three. 

Rome, Italy.

It was our second day in Rome today, and we officially had our tour around the city. Man, was it crowded! Up at 6:00am and hitting the sites beginning at 8:00am, and still there were thousands upon thousands of people at the very same sites looking to get a glimpse of history either via tour or simply on their own. 

Tourism is a massive thing here, and part of the cool scenario is knowing that you are indeed taking in all of these great sites with others from all over the world. Simply, cool stuff indeed. 

As I stated, the alarm sounded at 6:05am, and our day begun with breakfast. Coming off the travel day, I felt refreshed and ready to go, despite still feeling some effects from the time change and the restless travel period I had. However, as I always do when entering a new country, I dabbled in their culture. When it came to Italy and breakfast, I threw back a shot of expresso this morning and let me just say, I was wide awake and ready to go within a few minutes. I see why Italians are so energetic. I see why they talk so much. I see why they use their hands so often. EXPRESSO! I probably could have ran from our hotel to Vatican City.

The day kicked off with a trip to Vatican City which is simply phenomenal. I can sit here and pound my keyboard with adjectives, praise, acknowledgement, and words bordering on hyperbole, but it still won't do it justice. Walking through some of the most amazing churches, through many sites where The Pope makes traditional and momentous speeches, and other various historic and sacred places, was just amazing.

As for the Sistine Chapel - awesome! AWE-SOME! That's all. No words, no movie, no internet research or online viewing does this room justice other than coming to Italy, learning about Michelangelo's story, and viewing the room that houses the chapel alongside the world famous Final Judgement painting. Just jaw dropping, period. 

After touring Vatican City, we went to the place where I couldn't wait to explore - The Roman Colosseum. I shortly explained yesterday how we quickly drove through the site and how impressive it was. Today, not only did we learn about the Colosseum, but we walked around and through it. Yes, yours truly geeked out and was in love with the early specs of the ancient Romans who somehow understood the art of sports, events, and facilities, long before it was a concentrated study or focus industry.

This is the part where I geek out again. If you're not into this stuff, I would advise you to just skip the next two paragraphs. The Roman's facility design of the Colosseum was beyond this world when it came to housing over 55,000 people as well as using the arena for multipurpose events. Who knew? The Colosseum was built on a lake and the Romans would move the floor boards to change the surface to be available for Navy battles. Brilliant. Just brilliant. 

Not only that, but just walking through the remains of the site, you understand their architecture and design of mezzanine levels and spacing as well as egress routes and risk management/event/safety concerns. As someone in this field, you just have to be amazed at how advanced this thinking was during ancient times. We have sports and recreational facilities being built today that aren't nearly as well built or designed as this structure once was.

Okay, that's enough, I could go on, but it's the type of thing that belongs in a college classroom discussion, an industry conference, or a continuing education text book. I won't bore you...I'll move on. 

The afternoon was spent touring downtown Rome venturing into more churches, learning more of the city, and more about the culture. 

Here are some pictures I snapped on my phone throughout the day. Feel free to click on any of them to make them bigger to view. 













Italians are very, very, fiery people. Nothing the rest of the world didn't know already, but they can really go from 0 to 60 in the anger department in the matter of seconds. I witnessed this today as our tour guide, Aida, a tall, burly, and curvy Italian woman, pretty much ripped a worker at Vatican City a new one in front of our group. I have to admit, Aida is already a favorite of mine as she has a tremendous personality, but she's quite intimidating. Italian women, huh? 

Also, more random facts, we bought pizza from a local store and the pizza did not have tomato sauce. It was really good, but just weird for us Americans I guess, who are used to such a thing. 

Speaking of random - "Hey Mr. Obama!". Yes, a random man at Vatican City called me that as I began boarding the bust to head back to our hotel. I'm not sure if it was a racist thing, as people of color isn't exactly a common thing here, or just a funny comment to get my attention to have me purchase whatever tourist gadget he was selling, or maybe just to be funny - whatever - I thought it was hilarious. So did some of my guide-mates. After all, how many times have you been called the President of the United States? I'll take it! I saluted him, and boarded Air forc...errr our tour bus. 

Also, gelato is tremendous. Yes, I had it again. How can you not when there is a store selling it on every corner?. Ill just say this, us Americans are getting robbed big time. Ice cream stinks. Give me more of this gelato thing! 

Finally, I've never been a big wine guy. Beer has always been my thing. I'll admit right now as well, wine isn't bad. It's actually pretty good. Maybe the Italians just know what they're doing. Umm, yeah, I'll go with that reasoning for my sudden discovery for the graped alcohol beverage.

Well, that's it for Rome. We won't return here until the end of our Italy adventure. I'm going to get some shut eye with another 6:00am calling as we grab breakfast, pack up again, and board a bus for a three hour trip to our next stop - Tuscany. 

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